Nowadays, there is no lack of Ecommerce products on the market: From SaaS products like Shopify and BigCommerce to open source solutions like OpenCart, PrestaShop and Zen Cart. There is also another standard, namely the CMS shops like WooCommerce and Drupal Commerce that built upon WordPress and Drupal respectively, two of the most popular Content Management Systems on the market.
Another type of Ecommerce software that isn’t all too unfamiliar to us are hybrid solutions, where you find a community open source solution and a professionally hosted SaaS product. Popular brands like Odoo and SugarCRM are well known for their community and professional editions and Magento is their equivalent in the Ecommerce arena.
In this review we have decided to put Magento to a test and see why, right now, it is the best option out there for midsized, big and fast growing businesses and how it is the most scalable, customizable and feature rich solution on the market.
A little bit of history:
In 2007, Roy Rubin was a student, when trying to make some money, he started to develop Magento. He correctly recognized OSCommerce’s flaws and shortcomings and later founded Varien to further develop and publish the platform. After the success of the Beta Community Edition in 2007, Varien published the first public release on 31st March, 2008. Magento was later sold to eBay and Roy left the company, but as it happens sometimes, in 2015, Magento became an independent company again. Here is a good visualization of Magento’s history in form of an infographic.
Magento offers a vast array of Ecommerce features and possibilities out of the box with the promised advantage of limitless scalability and customization options. Some of Magento’s are as follows:
- Mobile Commerce: Magento themes come with built in support for mobile devices and are natively responsive.
- SEO: The software showcases some very useful out of the box SEO capabilities that have been even enhanced in version 2, but there are also extensions and plugins that can be used to add it up.
- CMS: It features an out of the box state of the art content management system that can act as your shops blog.
- Store Credits: Gives you the ability to convert returned products into in store credits for future purchases.
- Private Sales: the vast in intricate reporting and analysis services enable you to recognize your VIP customers and pamper them with private sales and other exclusive shopping offers.
- Gift Registries
- Fast Checkout: A fast 2 step checkout process reduces cart abandonments and ads to conversion rates.
- Gift Cards: Enable your customers to send gift cards for exclusive purchases from your online store.
- Integration: With standard API features, Magento offer a very flexible interface for integration with available CRM and ERP applications.
Magento’s Pros & Cons:
Without further ado, let us directly dive into Magento’s pros and cons and then further investigate the historical roots of this alignment.
- Open Source: IT’S FREE and Open source. Magento’s Community Edition (CE) is distributed under the Open Software License (OSL 3.0), which basically means download, modify, use, and distribute the open source Software.
- Architecture: Magento is modular and MVC based from ground up. The system is so clean and logically categorized and structured that you won’t find any common pitfall all too well known to developers. Magento has put so much emphasize on proper architecture that some say it may even be over-architected.
- Popularity: According to researches Magento is the leading platform among Ecommerce solutions, with a 20% market; next comes WooCommerce, WordPress’ Ecommerce plugin. Magento’s popularity leads to more options for customers, when choosing between different agencies and its wide spread community, makes it a perfect deal for developers and startups to find resources.
- Extensions and Plugins: One of the major advantages of Magento is the wide range of already available functional code in form of extensions and plugins. Its popularity has led to many commercial and noncommercial extensions and nearly imaginable aspect of functionality and feature is already covered.
- Learning curve: The learning curve of Magento is pretty steep. Beauty has always a price. Magento is a pro system and getting up and running using it needs some time and effort even for the seasoned developers among you. Even if you are a veteran OOP programmer with good and in depth knowledge about PHP Zend Framework, you need some time and struggling to know yourself in the world of Magento. This is also true for the designers among you. Magento’s way of doing things is unbelievably sophisticated and beautiful. But in retrospect, it’ll seem like a Ninja course in “What is possibly the smartest way to isolate code from content from design?”
- Complexity: Magento doesn’t just give its developers and designers a hard time when they begin using it, but also from a user’s or admin’s point of view, it is complex. Magento comes with a ship load of features out of the box, but not always in the most obvious way to normal users. For example, in order to give you the ability to manage different stores or websites from the same backend, Mgento has its unique way of categorizing products, consequently, products can appear under multiple completely unrelated categories. In short, prepare yourself and train your employees.
Magento vs. WooCommerce:
Magento’s next biggest rival is WooCommerce, WordPress’ Ecommerce plugin. From the top 1 million site on the web, Magento powers around 10k, whereas WooCommerce runs ca. 14k. But if you look closer and narrow your search to top 10k websites, you’ll see that Magento is definitely the winner. This suggests the true difference between the 2 systems. Aside from, not surprisingly, one being more CMS oriented and the other more Ecommerce, usage statistics reveal a simple truth about the 2 systems. The bigger your web store, the more likely it is that you should opt for Magento and vice versa. For a more in depth comparison please read this article.
Generally, developing a Magento solution will cost you more time and money than many of the other solutions on the market. There is one nice comparison between Magento and WooCommerce that suggest setting up a Magento application will cost you around 3 times more than WooCommerce. Looking at Magento’s intended target market, community and history, one will learn that it was never planned otherwise. So our advice is: If you intend to have a top of the class web store with every possible feature in it and you are able to invest a little bit more money, go with Magento and rest assured that there is no other player on the market that can beat Magento’s feature-cost comparison chart. But if you are small and your estimate for the near future is to stay small, don’t waste your time and money with Magento and use any of the other solutions on the market like WooCommerce, OpenCart or Shopify.
Below, are some active Magento shops that we found really creative and beautiful. Have a look for yourselves.